Missouri has so much to offer visitors and residents alike: rich history, beautiful scenery, quaint towns, bustling cities and everywhere, interesting people. It's also filled with great stories – and has been home to many amazing storytellers, past and present.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Author William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature," and he's been lauded as "the greatest humorist this country has ever produced." His classics include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which is often called "The Great American Novel." Visit the two-room cabin in which he was born at Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site in Florida, Missouri. Tour his boyhood home and museum and explore the cave featured in his novels in Hannibal.
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957)
Although born in Wisconsin, Laura Ingalls Wilder spent her adult life in Mansfield, where she started her writing career doing a column for the Missouri Ruralist. During the Great Depression, she began penning stories about her pioneering childhood, which became the classic Little House on the Prairie children's book series and a 1970s television show. Discover more about this pioneering author at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum in Mansfield.
T.S. Eliott (1888-1965)
One of the 20thcentury's major poets, T.S Eliot was born in St. Louis but moved to England at the age of 25. A book of his light verse published in 1939, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats ("Old Possum" was poet Ezra Pound's nickname for Eliot) was adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber as the basis for the musical, Cats. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948 and is honored on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Robert Heinlein (1907-1988)
Known as the "dean" of science fiction writers, Robert Heinlein was born in Butler, Missouri. His books have often been made into TV series and movies, including Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers. A never-published novel, The Pursuit of the Pankera, is scheduled for release in 2020. A parallel novel to The Number of the Beast, the story was reconstructed from pages of the original manuscript and author's notes, with no additional filler, so the work is entirely his own. Visit the Robert A. Heinlein Library Addition in his hometown, which houses memorabilia and original books.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
A leading literary voice of the African-American community, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis. She wrote more than a dozen books of prose and poetry, earning Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominations. Her best-selling account of her upbringing in segregated rural Arkansas, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, won critical acclaim in 1970. She is honored on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
George Hodgman (1959-2019)
After working with some of the nation's best-known writers as an editor at Simon & Schuster and Houghton Mifflin publishers and at Vanity Fair magazine, George Hodgman returned to his Missouri roots in Madison and Paris for his highly-praised best-selling memoir Bettyville. The brutally honest, witty and poignant tale explores the experience of a cosmopolitan New Yorker who was gay, caring for a mother with dementia in a small town filled with both affectionate and painful memories.
Perhaps the most prolific writer on our list, Alexandra Ivy (also writing under the name Deborah Raleigh) calls Hannibal home. The New York Times and USA Today best-selling author has published nearly 40 books in a wide variety of genres, from paranormal and erotic romance to historical and romantic suspense.
An Independence native, Jim Butcher wrote his first book in The Dresden Files series - about a professional wizard named Harry Dresden who works and battles supernatural bad guys in modern-day Chicago – at the age of 25. The New York Times best-selling author has written 15 books in the Dresden universe as well as a six-book fantasy series, Codex Alera.
Kansas City native Gillian Flynn has published three novels – Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl – all of which have been adapted for film or television. She was nominated for the Golden Globe, Writers Guild of American Award and BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Gone Girl.
If you wander into the right coffee shop near Ozark you may stumble across supernatural thriller author Shayne Silvers "cackling madly into his computer while pounding shots of espresso." The combination obviously works for him, since he has THREE intertwined series of books featuring Nate Temple, a wizard who is trying to protect St. Louis from monsters, myths and legends … Callie Penrose, a rookie female spell-slinger in Kansas City … and Quinn MacKenna, a black magic arms dealer in Boston. His book count in the Templeverse stands at 30, a number that seems to increase every time you blink.
Written by Barb Brueggeman